By DANIEL LEBLANC
Globe and Mail Update
Trois-Rivières, Que. Liberal Leader Jean Chrétien wound down his cross-country campaign Saturday night by calling on Canadians to elect a strong Liberal government able to combat the separatist Bloc Québécois.
"The Bloc is dreaming of a weakened Liberal government to prepare a referendum that no one wants in Quebec," he said at a boisterous rally in his home region.
Mr. Chrétien was returning to his home region after a five-week campaign that saw him travel 41,296 kilometres in Canada, enough to fly around the globe, he said. Throughout the day, he warned Canadians to carefully weigh the consequences of rejecting his party in Monday's vote.
"Don't take a chance," Mr. Chrétien told voters at a partisan rally in London, Ont.
The Liberal Leader tried to exude confidence through it all, saying he was only talking about the possibility of a minority because the opposition leaders had started urging people to vote strategically.
"It's my job to speak about the consequences. It's not that I'm afraid (that it will happen)," Mr. Chrétien said.
Mr. Chrétien said that Conservative Leader Joe Clark had spoken about collaborating with the Bloc Québécois in the event of a minority government. He added that Bloc Leader Gilles Duceppe has said that a minority would help his party achieve its goal of sovereignty.
"The last three nights, three times, Mr. Duceppe said a minority government will help their cause. It's not me who said that, he said that. So I'm telling that to the rest of the nation," Mr. Chrétien said at a news conference.
"Mr. Joe Clark wants to have a minority government and he said that he will have an alliance with them (the Bloc). The people have to know that. It's not because I'm afraid. But in case some people are in doubt about the necessity to have a strong mandate for a strong government that speaks for all Canadians, that gives them a very good reason to vote for the Liberal Party."
Mr. Chrétien, lauding his own clarity bill that sets federal rules for a future Quebec referendum, attacked Mr. Clark for vowing to repeal the bill if he gets to power.
"Mr. Clark doesn't see more clearly today than he did yesterday," Mr. Chrétien said. "He needs glasses."